ARDROSSAN Harbour looks set for a multi-million-pound investment - if the ferry service to Arran stays within the town.

Details are beginning to emerge of the multi-million-pound investment proposals being developed by Peel Ports and North Ayrshire Council to retain the Ardrossan to Brodick ferry link. 

High-level proposals revealed at North Ayrshire’s Economic Development and Regeneration Board aim to save the link as the ‘shortest, fastest and cheapest’ route to Arran.

The proposals would see Ardrossan Harbour owners Peel Ports invest in significant infrastructure upgrades at the site - including improvements to the navigation dredge pocket, linkspans, harbour walls, bollards, gantries, fenders and signage.

Meanwhile, North Ayrshire Council will complement Peel Ports’ investment with improvements to the passenger terminal, roads, car park, the public realm and connectivity with the town centre.

The Council investment forms part of the Ardrossan Harbour Masterplan and is a key strand of the wider Ayrshire Growth Deal, supported by all three Ayrshire local authorities. The suite of integrated proposals would significantly improve passenger and berthing facilities at Ardrossan for the new generation of ferries being introduced by Calmac in 2018. Peel Ports and North Ayrshire Council will seek input from key stakeholders over the next few weeks before presenting the proposals to Transport Minister Humza Yousaf before Christmas.

Doug Coleman, Peel Ports’ project director for the regeneration of Ardrossan Harbour, said: “We’re committed to a multi-million-pound investment in the marine infrastructure at Ardrossan to improve connections with Arran via the shortest, fastest and cheapest route.

“These will be bespoke facilities and modern infrastructure specifically designed for the new £48.5m ferry, which will itself dramatically improve docking reliability in poor weather. The thrusters on the new ferry are 300 per cent more powerful than the current vessel, enabling it to manoeuvre and dock in far more challenging weather conditions than the 23-year-old Caledonian Isles. 

“Together with the people and businesses of Arran who depend on this lifeline service, our partners at North Ayrshire Council, politicians of all parties and the local mainland communities, we are determined to ensure that a modern, reliable ferry service is maintained between Arran and Ardrossan for decades to come.” 

Joe Cullinane, Leader of North Ayrshire Council, said: “These proposals add real strength to the already compelling case for retaining the Ardrossan to Brodick ferry route and begin to flesh out our ambitious plans for Ardrossan, Arran and the wider area.” 

Councillor Cullinane stressed that the Council’s investment had been earmarked earlier this year, prior to the owners of Troon Port approaching the Scottish Government with a proposal to ‘poach’ the ferry from Ardrossan. 

He said: “Some ill-informed and anonymous claims have been circulating recently that Ardrossan would need £30 million of public subsidy to bring it up to standard. Let me just put that claim to rest once and for all. The money required to adapt and upgrade the infrastructure at Ardrossan Harbour to make sure it’s fit for the new vessel will come from the private sector - from Peel Ports. 

“We are acutely conscious of the need to spend public money wisely and for the benefit of local people, so I’m very happy to confirm that the investment from the Council will contribute to improvements which focus on the wider regeneration of the area.

“Our investment will safeguard existing jobs and create new local jobs by maximising the potential of retaining the ferry link - such as attracting one million visitors per year to our area. “The case for Ardrossan is overwhelming, but if others wish to resort to misinformation and exaggeration, that’s their call.”

Gordon McLean, Chair of North Ayrshire Economic Development and Regeneration (EDR) Board, said: “Over the last few months, we have developed a fresh, new partnership between the public and private sector to unlock the potential of Ardrossan and further develop the economic and social benefits of maintaining the Ardrossan to Brodick ferry.

“The ferry has a long history of being in Ardrossan. We want to build on this history for future generations. Today’s announcement best meets the needs of the local people of Ardrossan, Arran and Campbelltown.

“The importance of the Ardrossan to Brodick ferry link to local businesses and the economy cannot be underestimated and the EDR Board calls on all local companies to make their views known to the Transport Minister, Humza Yousaf.”